Cardinals vs. Nationals MLB Odds & Picks: Series Opener Could Brings Bats To Life (Monday, April 19)

Cardinals vs. Nationals MLB Odds & Picks: Series Opener Could Brings Bats To Life (Monday, April 19) article feature image
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Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Nolan Arenado.

  • Jack Flaherty and Joe Ross will face off on Monday in D.C. to open a series between the Cardinals and Nationals.
  • Flaherty is still trying to regain his impressive form from 2018-19, while Ross looks to continue his strong start to 2021.
  • Matthew Trebby breaks down where he sees betting value in this matchup below.

Cardinals vs. Nationals Odds

Cardinals Odds -110
Nationals Odds -110
Over/Under 8
Time Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Sunday and via PointsBet

Former postseason foes meet up to start a series in D.C. on Monday when the Cardinals take on the Nationals.

Joe Ross will toe the mound for Washington, thriving early in the season after missing all of 2020, while Jack Flaherty looks to get back to his form from 2018-19 in his fourth start of the season. Neither offense is exactly thriving at the moment, but there’s reason to believe Monday night could see plenty of runs.

Let’s dig into the matchup and find the betting value.

St. Louis Cardinals

Flaherty wasn’t the only person who struggled in 2020, but his season was especially disappointing given the ace-like numbers he put up the two previous seasons. It’s easy to understand how a pitcher could struggle for the Cardinals last season, though, given their COVID-19 issues that derailed the campaign early on.

In nine starts, Flaherty registered a 4.91 ERA and 4.11 FIP, which indicates some bad luck. It’s a far cry from the 3.01 ERA and 3.64 FIP he registered in 61 starts between 2018-19, though.

Thus far, Flaherty has allowed seven runs over 15 1/3 innings for a 4.33 FIP this season. There’s some reason for concern in that his velocity is down across the board. His fastball was an average of 94.0 mph in 2020 but is down to 92.9 this year.

The Cardinals’ lineup has underwhelmed this season. Yadier Molina is hitting like an All-Star, but Paul DeJong, Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt all have an OPS under .650. Against right-handed pitchers like Ross, the Cardinals entered Sunday with a .690 OPS, which ranked 25th in the majors.

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Washington Nationals

Ross is off to a splendid start to the 2021 season, having thrown 11 scoreless innings between his first two starts. His 2.34 FIP is still very good, and if that mark matched his ERA then he’d be the best pitcher ever. Take nothing away from Ross, who once looked like he was going to be a mainstay in the Nationals’ rotation before injuries derailed his career.

Washington got its season off to a late start due to COVID-19 issues, with some players missing its first action of the season. Now, though, everyone is healthy, aside from Stephen Strasburg (shocker).

Washington’s lineup has struggled this season, although its .729 OPS entering play on Sunday somehow ranked seventh in the majors. That’s more a sign that hitting is down this season since that number would have been the 16th best in the big leagues last year.

That number was before Madison Bumgarner threw five innings of one-run ball against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon. Trea Turner continued his quest to show that last season’s potential breakout campaign was no fluke, hitting a pair of home runs that accounted for the Nats’ only scoring.

The biggest disappointment for Washington’s lineup this season has been Josh Bell. The first baseman, who was acquired in the offseason from the Pirates, is coming off a disastrous 2020 season that saw him hit .226 with a .669 OPS. He was supposed to hit cleanup and help fill the power void left by Anthony Rendon’s departure before last season, but Bell has shown no signs of bouncing back quite yet.

Cardinals-Nationals Pick

The Cardinals were unsurprisingly silenced in a big way by Aaron Nola’s complete-game shutout on Sunday, furthering their struggles at the plate in 2021, but Ross is not Nola and will not be vying for the National League Cy Young Award this year.

Ross’ velocity is down from 2019, though, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that teams are eventually going to start thriving against him. Washington’s lineup features enough left-handed firepower that I could see it doing some damage against Flaherty.

I’m not sold on either team or its starting pitcher, and the total is set at 8.0, which is just north of what it would be for a matchup of established rotation leaders. I see a chance for both teams to get going at the plate on Monday night coming off lackluster outings on Sunday and will back the over, but only up to 8.5 if it gets there.

Pick: Over 8 (up to 8.5)

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